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Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in culture_eater's LiveJournal:

Thursday, April 1st, 2004
9:21 am
When Details Magazine goes scummy...
Was moved to write an email to Details Magazine today:

"To Details magazine,

I am writing to congratulate you for your article equating Asians with homosexuality, thus transforming your magazine into the most racist and homophobic mainstream American magazine on the newstands today.

I'm sure you all thought it was all very funny and cutting edge to choose another ethnic group and sexual orientation to denigrate, now that you wouldn't possibly dare do the same to, say, the African-Amerian or Hispanic Communities. Your hypocrisy and moral cowardice are commendably original in the current climate.

You obviously thought Asians were soft targets and acted accordingly, which is very brave considering the considerable economic and spending power the Asian community has, and I'm sure they will make that power felt to you before long, especially when they demonstrate their ability to boycott both your magazine and the products of your advertisers.

You truly have an exceptional writer in Whitney McNally, whose petty small-mindedness is a shining example to everyone of that ilk. If this writer was not truly racist or homophobic, but was in fact merely putting on the attitudes for the sake of writing the article, that displays a remarkable lack of any soul or moral backbone. I am sure McNally sleeps very well at night.

I would never have thought social pariahdom a particularly desirable status to attain, but I'm sure you found some merit or advantage in it, and I can assure you that you now have a surplus of it.

Yours sincerely,
Adi Tantimedh"
Saturday, March 27th, 2004
5:56 pm
Munch! Munch! Munch!
I just came back from seeing the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, which I thought was very good.

Zack Snyder is that increasingly-rare thing: a young director who actually knows how to set up, build and pace a scene for dramatic tension.

And I'm puzzled at the critics who say it dumps the consumerist satire of Romero's original and has no subtext -- it clearly takes as subtext the post-millenial, post-911 Bad Economy, post-political feel of the current times and basically says that nothing matters -- not the futile, escapist pursuit of hedonistic pleasures, not the attempt to redeem oneself by making a family, not the frenzied attempts at getting out alive -- because any way you cut it, you're FUCKED.

It's the perfect, timely commentary on Dubya's Amerika!

It put me in a good mood.

Current Mood: chipper
Thursday, March 18th, 2004
7:55 am
BBC announcers have feelings, too.
Heard on the World Service. I'm not making this up:

"And now, Claire Skinner reads from Odd Girl Out by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The following contains some adult and sexual situations..."

(slight pause)


Current Mood: accomplished
Wednesday, March 17th, 2004
8:38 am
Monarchs are there to entertain us!
Watched the first part of GUNPOWDER, TREASON AND PLOT on BBC2. The script was by Jimmy McGovern, one of the better screenwriters in Britain and a leftie from Liverpool. It was about Mary Queen of Scots, and the reign of her son James I, who took over the throne of England after the death of Elizabeth.

The script had McGovern's usual themes of victimhood and living with victimisation, and the plot just whizzed along nicely. There's no subtlety at all, people ran around shouting at each other, and killed each other. Elizabeth seemed to repeat one line throughout the show: "Destroy her!"

(There have been loads of legends about the rivalry between Elizabeth and Mary. I know that some people believe Elizabeth was jealous of Mary's beauty, but come on, the two of them never even met, and they didn't exactly have Polaroids in those days for someone to present to Elizabeth for her to become apoplectic with jealousy. No, it was patently obvious that Mary was a threat to Elizabeth's claim to the throne and had to be put down.)

However, the only thing I really got from part one was that Mary really wasn't very bright, was she?

I mean, she went through the two hours and her short reign basically making making every wrong decision imaginable, wimped out at nearly every turn, and on the few occasions where she made a right decision, only made it when it was far too late. She came in with a bad hand and proceeded to make it even weaker. I don't think it was that hard for the more savvy Elizabeth to wipe the floor with her. By the end of part one, she's imprisoned, and her baby son taken away from her to be raised to become the murderous, psychotic and gay James I.

Happily, in part two, James I will be played by everyone's favourite candidate to play Scottish psychos, Robert Carlyle. We'll get to see what happens when Begbie gets to be king! Joy! This is a fun thing. A few months ago, we've already had Thug Delux Ray Winstone play Henry VIII. I kept hoping for moments when Ray-Henry would completely lose his rag and bellow "Shut it, you slag!" or "Who's the daddy now, eh? Who's the fucking daddy!" Maybe they'll be in the deleted scenes on the DVD.

We've come a long way from actors with posh accents like Alec Guinness or Charles Laughton playing English kings. We now have edgy working class actors playing English kings as the crazed bastards they probably were. Fun fun fun.

Oh, and in Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Judas is attacked by VAMPIRE CHILDREN!
Saturday, February 7th, 2004
7:53 pm
Subversion or Accident?
I wonder if Warner Brothers realise that the DVD cover of the Eddie Murphy movie DADDY DAYCARE appears to depict Eddie Murphy being sodomised by a child wearing a Flash costume...

Current Mood: complacent
Thursday, January 29th, 2004
7:59 pm
"So, Mr. Bond, how would you like your nervous breakdown?"
While I was writing the last entry, I find the BBC World Service are broadcasting a serialised reading the first James Bond novel, CASINO ROYALE.

I read all the Bond novels at once during a slow summer when I was fourteen, and they seemed to melt into one. Various phrases or their variations were repeated several times in every book, especially the part where Bond is confronted with the female lead and considers her: "If the girl was pretending, she was a damned good actress..." After the fourth book, that line just cracked me up whenever I came across it again in the next books.

It's amazing how different the book's Bond is from the movies' Bond. Movie Bond is really an R-rated Bugs Bunny, endlessly inventive, unstoppable and accessorised with girls and a bodycount. Book Bond, on the other hand, is a paranoid basket case constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Both he and books share a serious masochistic streak in the relish with which Fleming wrote the torture scenes. Given that this is his first appearance, Book Bond spends most of the second half of the book tied to a chair getting tortured and the crap beaten out of him.

But at no point in any of the books did vampires attack.

Current Mood: mellow
7:44 pm
"I speet on your emotional urp-leeft! Life is merde!"
I've always been fascinated by the tradition in French Literature for Decadence and Transgression, which evolved into Existentialism in the Twentieth Century. The writers that come out and say, "No! Life sucks! We find beauty in the Ugly!" The list goes from de Sade to Leautremont to Baudelaire to Rimbaud to Celine to Camus to Genet to Sartre.

The latest proponent to walk the walk and talk the talk is Michel Houllebecq, his last name pronounced "wel-bek". He seems genuinely unhappy, self-loathing, hypochondriac and out to shout his moral and emotional disgust at Life from the rooftops of Ireland, where he now lives, still not speaking English and free from paying taxes, because artists and writers are exempt from taxes in Ireland.

(For some reason, I now really want to see stories about a grim, self-loathing, hypochondriac detective named MIKE WELLBECK, but I digress...)

Having read his two major novels, ATOMISED aka ELEMENTARY PARTICLES, and PLATFORM, I can't help feeling he has settled into using pretty much the same plot.

The Houllebecq's plot-o-meter runs like this:

"I am ugly. I hate myself. I want to fuck. I meet a woman. She wants to fuck me. We fuck a lot. I think I love her. I don't admit it. She dies. I despair. Life is a black hole of hopelessness. I am French, you know."

I now think Jonathan Clements was right: *every* story would be immeasurably improved if at some point in the narrative, VAMPIRES ATTACKED!
12:02 pm
Gotta love that Confucian Confusion
Was talking to my friend, historian Jonathan Clements, who is about to write what will be the first readable English biography of Confucius.

Confucius, as you know, was the philosopher who wrote the treatises on morality and ethical behaviour that became the underpinning of East Asian culture, which included not just Chinese culture, but Japanese and Korean culture as well. He was the one who demanded that people respect their elders, respect authority, and that women should be subservient to their husbands, being inferior and all.

In our discussion, Jonathan and I realised that Confucius was actually the *David Brent* of his day.

In case you ask, David Brent is the fiction Boss from Hell in the BBC comedy THE OFFICE. He thinks he's smart and clever, when in fact he's self-serving, passive-aggressive, incompetent, totally clueless and basically an all-round jerk.

Confucius spent his life selling himself as an accomplished scholar in order to jockey for high government posts, only for them to find that he was utterly incompetent and basically a clueless jerk.

He did live to his sixties, and had a fairly interesting life, being a witness to history and all.

But in the long run, here was a guy who was a complete failure in everything he tried in life, who only achieve success later on by writing a bestseller.

Don't you love how History teaches us that people are pretty much the same through the ages?

Current Mood: amused
7:55 am
Opening with Oscars
So they've announced this year's Oscar nominations, and the night of the awards will be the equivalent of America having an annual royal wedding.

Because I am mean and petty, I am very happy that COLD MOUNTAIN has been snubbed in the major nominations: no Best Picture, no Best Director, no Best Adapted Screenplay.

And Nicole Kidman gets snubbed for Best Actress because the voters don't seem impressed with her portrayal of a Romulan who's gone undercover as a Southern Belle in the Civil War. How do I know she's an alien? Tell-tale signs: those ridiculous faux-Oriental plucked eyebrows that did not exist in 19th Century America, and her uncanny ability to keep looking scrubbed and luminous even when she was supposed to be haggard and starving. Or maybe she managed to find a good array of skin-care products while foraging for food. There's a lesson there, Nicole. Renee Zellweger looked like she'd been sleeping in a ditch for a month and got a nomination for her troubles. Cherlize Theron put on over 20 pounds and looked like a *normal person* and got a nomination.

Seriously though, I'm glad COLD MOUNTAIN got no big noms because the movie is a massive pile of mediocre crap. Every scene was so predictable you could correctly guess its outcome at the beginning and then have to endure an interminable wait to get to the conclusion that you'd been expecting. Anthony Mingella is intelligent, skilled, literate as most British writers are, but utterly mediocre and elitist in his philosophy towards making Art. Did he honestly believe he was showing us things we haven't seen before, and to Hollywood Academy voters, for whom the Western was something they all know inherently, being American? This movie could've been made back in the 1950s or early 60s by a director like William Wyler, Henry Hathaway or even Vicente Minelli, and it would've been more interesting. Crucially, it would've also been better-paced and clocked in at two hours or less rather than the portentious and interminable two-and-a-half hours Minghella seemed to think it needed.

I've spoken to some Academy member friends in the past few weeks, and they seemed to agree. Some people may think there's a conspiracy this year to "screw" Miramax, but that doesn't seem likely. The Academy will generally reward films they like, regardless of whether they like the producer or not. And the Academy seem perfectly sick of Nicole Kidman for trying to clone Meryl Streep's career for herself, hence no nominations for her work in either COLD MOUNTAIN or the insanely wrong HUMAN STAIN, where again, she plays an alien (possibly the same Romulan who pops up in different periods of human history) who mindwipes Anthony Hopkins into believing she's a cleaning woman in order to coerce him into some elaborate human-alien sexing experiment.

I don't believing in rewarding mediocrity, and I especially hate prestige movies that were cynically calculated to be Oscar-bait, movies that have no reason to exist other than to get their makers nominations. COLD MOUNTAIN and SYLVIA have Oscar-bait written all over them, just like THE HOURS did last year.

Apart from my satisfaction over COLD MOUNTAIN's lack of noms, I can't say I really care who or what wins the Oscars this year.

Current Mood: gleefully cranky
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